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Migration and Home Affairs
News article18 December 2022Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs2 min read

EU proposes new rules to fight trafficking in human beings

A blurred female figure in the background with her hand held up in a stop gesture in the foreground

On 19 December the European Commission proposed a revision of the EU Anti-trafficking Directive to strengthen the EU rules to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims.

Why new rules are necessary?

Over 7000 people are thought to become victims of human trafficking in the EU each year. The actual number is likely to be significantly higher as many victims remain undetected. The majority of victims are women and girls, but male victims are increasing. Forms of exploitation have evolved in recent years; the online dimension of the trafficking has increased. The EU and the national governments have to adapt to new challenges. Traffickers working online to recruit, control, transport and exploit the victims, as well as to move profits and beyond without crossing any border.

The proposed modernisation of the Directive includes targeted amendments addressing the observed key trends and current challenges.

The main changes are:

  • Adding forced marriage and illegal adoption among the forms of exploitation explicitly covered in the Directive;
  • Explicitly referring to the misuse of the internet, social media, to commit trafficking offences;
  • Strengthening the sanctions for companies (legal persons) held accountable for trafficking offences introducing a mandatory sanctions regimes;
  • Formalising the National Referral Mechanisms, which deal with identification of victims and their referral to protection, assistance and support services;
  • Requiring Member States to criminalise the knowing use services exacted from victims of trafficking in human beings;
  • Formalising an annual data collection on trafficking indicators.

Fourth Progress Report in the fight against trafficking in human beings (2019-2020)

The fourth report on the progress made in the fight against trafficking in human beings and its annex, provides a factual overview. The report presents key issues when addressing trafficking in human beings in the EU, including data, new challenges, the actions taken to implementation the EU Strategy as well as the Common Anti-Trafficking Plan to prevent trafficking of those fleeing the military aggression in Ukraine. The data included in the report and in the Staff Working Document was collected by EUROSTAT from all the Member States via the national statistical authorities. Read full report from EUROSTAT.

Find out more:

Press conference by Commissioner Ylva JOHANSSON and the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Diane SCHMITT

Press Release New rules to fight trafficking in human beings

Q&A: New rules to fight trafficking in human beings

Factsheet 'Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings'

Proposal Directive preventing and combatting trafficking in human beings and protecting victims

Evaluation of the proposal

Impact Assessment

Legal and Policy Framework


Publication date
18 December 2022
Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs